We get it, Sprint. You’re still relevant. You’ve never lost that truly unlimited philosophy. You’ve been around for a while, and lots of people use your network. But more and more people are discovering the benefits of prepaid service, and that rubs you the wrong way somehow. You have plenty of prepaid MVNOs on your network – Boost Mobile, Republic Wireless, Virgin Mobile, Ting – and they’re all popular in their own right. Of course it sounds like a great idea to launch your own no-contract offering. “Sprint As You Go” is a somewhat cutesy name, for better or worse. But uh… did you do any market research first? Here, I’ll help by telling you what you’ve already done wrong:
Freedom of choice… if we choose what you’ve chosen for us
CDMA is already a comparatively restrictive technology for device openness. It’s why most prepaid MVNOs see success on GSM networks. With Sprint As You Go, not only are you restricted to devices which only function on Sprint’s CDMA network, but you’re further limited to a select few devices which Sprint has elected “eligible” for the new plan.
There’s no good explanation for this restriction either, since the no-contract offering is using the same technology and network as its postpaid, on-contract brethren. There’s no Republic Wireless innovative hybrid network topology going on here. From a purely technical standpoint, there’s no documented reason why you shouldn’t be able to take the latest and greatest high-end Sprint smartphone (e.g., Samsung Galaxy S III, Samsung Galaxy Note II, HTC EVO 4G LTE, etc.) and use it with Sprint As You Go.
But Sprint won’t let you do that.
Instead, the only smartphones compatible with the prepaid plan are the LG Optimus Elite ($149.99) and the Samsung Victory ($249.99). For the feature phone plan, only the Samsung M400 ($49.99) and the Samsung Array ($79.99) are eligible. Stranger yet Sprint’s restriction on those devices:
Only Sprint As You Go devices with unique SKUs can be activated on these plans. Postpaid versions of these devices cannot be used.
So even if you already own one of the supported devices on your postpaid plan, you can’t bring your own device. You must purchase a new device, even if the one you have is functionally identical to the one you’re forced to purchase.
Sprint as you go… to the competition for their better pricing
Yep. Not only is Sprint As You Go unnecessarily restrictive on their devices by requiring you to buy a new device – thus completely disabling one of the primary benefits of a no-contract plan – the plan offerings themselves are beat in pricing by just about everyone else.
The Sprint As You Go plan includes unlimited voice, text, and data with voice roaming and data roaming available at 1xRTT (“2.5G”). No EV-DO (3G) data roaming is included, and you don’t get any advanced Sprint features like Wi-Fi hotspots or Sprint Navigation. If you elect for Sprint’s feature phones (the Samsung M400 or the Samsung Array), the plan will cost you $50 per month. If you elect for their smartphones instead (the LG Optimus Elite or the Samsung Victory), expect to pay a $20 monthly premium for a total of $70 per month.
Comparing that with the competition:
- Virgin Mobile Beyond Talk Unlimited* plan: $55
- Boost Mobile Android Monthly Unlimited*: $55
* “Unlimited” is throttled after 2.5 GB of data.
To put it another way, for the same $70, you could go with T-Mobile’s new Monthly4G option for truly unlimited 4G data without any absurd device restrictions.
But hey, at least there’s no activation fee. Except, you know, for the activation fee disguised as a brand new device and a higher monthly bill.
Images source: Android Police